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365 Reasons to Love Comics #56

Let’s take a look at another armored hero who has been mishandled in recent years. I wouldn’t call him a love machine, but one of those words is accurate.

2/25/07

56. James “Rhodey” Rhodes

War Machine 1.jpg

Rhodey’s interesting in that he used to be cool, but then they forgot how to use him properly. Nowadays, they don’t know what to do with him, and they turn him into a sentinel or whatever. Lame.

One of my favorite issues of Iron Man is the one that explains how Tony and Rhodey met. I forget the number, but it takes place immediately after Tales of Suspense #30-whatever, the first appearance and origin of Iron Man. He’s escaping through the Vietnamese jungle, and he runs into soldier-Rhodey. They team up to get the hell out of there. Goodness. Back then, he was a funny, afro-toting dude who gave his all for his buddies. He was totally awesome.

For a while there, Rhodey was “Iron Man’s Pal, Rhodey Rhodes.” Then he became the replacement Iron Man, stepping in when Tony was drunk or crippled or dead or what have you. Then he was War Machine, which is really a dumb name, but there you have it.

He wasn’t very subservient to Tony, though. A true Iron Expert informs me that the friendship between Tony and Rhodey is one of the most equal male-to-male friendships in comics. He’s not a second banana, like Jimmy Olsen, but a real buddy and confidant who occasionally becomes a fellow armored superhero.

I’m also told Rhodey has had a very bizarre range of careers throughout his lifespan in comics. He’s been a pilot, a fill-in CEO, the head of a human rights organization, a salvager (really? meh), and now leader of the Sentinel Squad (also meh). He was also in loved-but-quickly-killed series The Crew. There’s probably nothing he can’t do.

War Machine 2.jpg

I’ve always liked Rhodey way more than Tony Stark, and would rather have him in the Iron suit than the fascist madman we’ve got now. Where was Jim Rhodes in Civil War, huh, slapping some sense into Iron Man?

There’s your problem, though: while Rhodes has been portrayed well in the past and is a pretty fun and charismatic guy, that’s all he’s got going for him. He doesn’t have any distinct role or subgenre of his own; he’s just “the other Iron Man.” I don’t think that’s right, and I think it needs to be fixed. Being a Sentinel Pilot isn’t good enough; that’s a silly idea to begin with, and the bad kind of silly (you all know how I love the good kind of silly).

The “bodyguard” concept of Iron Man always fascinated me more than anything else. A superhero bodyguard is an awesome idea which doesn’t work if you’re supposed to be your own bodyguard. I’d pull an “X-Statix” with Iron Man and turn the “Iron Man” concept into a bodyguard business, with multiple Iron Men as bodyguard to the stars. Maybe Rhodey could head it. I don’t really think he fits in with that concept, though, and it’s turning him into a subservient, which I don’t want.

With enough time, I could probably come up with something. I’m going to turn this over to you guys, though. What’s your pitch for Rhodey? Let’s make him cool again! I hate it when old favorites are thrown away with the trash or relegated to lame-o status. How would you make Jim Rhodes a viable character again?

For God’s sake, he’ll be played by Terrence Howard in the movie! That’s integrity, man. Integrity’s something Rhodey’s been lacking recently. It needs to be put back.

Also, can anyone explain what the deal with this hideous armor is? Who thought that was a good idea? How could it have lasted as long as it did? Ugh. No wonder his book was cancelled, if that thing was on all the covers…

27 Comments

War Machine is cool (which is probably why KISS wrote a song about him). Given how Iron Man and Reed Richards have been treated during Civil Snore its probably a good thing that Marvel seem to have forgotten about him for the time being.

Rhodey and War Machine have recently appeared in Black Panther. It was kind of an interesting story which basically resulted in a bit of falling out between Rhodey and Tony when Rhodey sided with Black Panther.

I’m pretty sure Rhodey’s going to be a major character in and possibly in charge of The Initiative.

I’d like to see Rhodey show up in the Iron Man armor and say, “I’m the real Iron Man. Always have been. Stark is a fascist and a fraud who has sullied my good name.”

Gah, that last link… it said art by Fred Haynes, is he to blame for that awful design?

SanctumSanctorumComix

February 26, 2007 at 9:15 am

That alien armor was MARVEL’s response to DC giving alien armor to GUY GARDNER : WARRIOR.

The big 2 always pull that weird “I can do what YOU do, but much, much worse” kind of competition.

It’s bizarro one-ups-manship:
(“one-down-manship”?)

Same thing happened with IRON MAN.
When DC made GREEN LANTERN, HAL JORDAN, go bat-shit insane, Marvel made TONY STARK into a mind-controlled killer-puppet of IMMORTUS (or KANG… I forget).
Then, we got DC presenting a younger GL (KYLE RAYNOR) and MARVEL trotted out teen-Tony.

DC had a good thing with KID ETERNITY, so MARVEL remakes DR STRANGE into a carbon copy (long hair, John Lennon glasses, full body-suit {all black, instead of all-white like Kid Eternity}).

BEFORE that, DC had a good run with a humorous DR. FATE, so MARVEL turned DR. STRANGE into a funny book too.
Godawful!

That’s not to say that it doesn’t go the other way around.
DC riffs off MARVEL all the time.
It all just makes zero sense (creatively anyway).

But, seeing as how the president is MARVEL trying to riff off of JLA, with the FF back in the early days… I guess it’s a usual business practice.

~P~
P-TOR

make him Jim Rhodes, Agent of SHIELD and throw him in a spy book called, um, SHIELD, leading black widow, pete wisdom, dum dum dugan…i dunno – any good?

“I’d like to see Rhodey show up in the Iron Man armor and say, “I’m the real Iron Man. Always have been. Stark is a fascist and a fraud who has sullied my good name.””

That would be hilarious and awesome.

“You’re not Iron Man!”
“How do you know?”
“Iron Man’s not black.”

REPULSOR RAY.

“Who says?”

My pitch:

In a celebrity-obsessed culture dominated by images of conspicuous consumption on shows like MTV’s Cribs and VH1′s The Fabulous Life Of…, expensive cars, ostentatious jewelry, and mansions have become all too common. The ultimate celebrity status symbol would be an honest-to-goodness superhero bodyguard. Have Rhodey start working security for a pampered pop diva or hip-hop artist with a checkered criminal past. When his charge gets killed, Jim Rhodes has to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Make it a 3 part miniseries.

Jim Rhodes the the man! I’ve enjoyed the character since as a kid I first read one of the issues where he was filling in for Stark as Iron Man in the mid-1980s. The concept just appealed to me, that he was this regular guy who ended up having to fill some of the biggest shoes in the Marvel universe. I mean, Tony Stark is an interesting character, but it’s a lot easier to relate to Rhodes. And I was actually glad to see him in the Sentntinel Squad. It made sense. I mean, if you want to train people to pilot high tech suits of battle armor, who better to ask than a guy who’s been Iron Man on numerous different occasions?

Agreed, Jim Rhodes is awesome. I even like the War Machine name – simple, direct, unapologetic. He’s a soldier, and his armor is his weapon.

I’d love to see Rhodey become a new Iron Man, either as such or as War Machine. Put Stark on hold until everyone can safely retcon all the stupid Civil War fallout. Maybe that’d let them get back to telling some interesting stories.

Add me to the list of Rhodey fans. He’s definitely the best Iron Man supporting character, and a big improvement over the lackluster Happy and Pepper. Bringing those two back and sidelining Rhodey was the biggest mistake in Kurt Busiek’s otherwise good reboot of the character after Heroes Reborn. Ever since, it’s been a lesser title for his absence.

No sense daydreaming about him crashing Tony’s Civil War party, however. He’s on the pro-reg side, not just out of loyalty to Tony but because he’s thought it through and agrees with him. (Such is the impression from CIVIL WAR FILES, anyway. Anybody who thinks Tony is evil or nuts should pick that book up.)

- Z

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Jim Rhodes was a better supporting character that a carbon copy of another superhero. I liked him when he actually was Iron Man but I hate the name WAR MACHINE and the black and white armor.

Since Tony Stark seem to have become such an ass-hole in the recent CIVIL WAR (and I’m told that he became SHIELD’s boss) maybe Rhodey could become a more noble IRON MAN again.

I don’t like that bodyguard idea. Its not really a superhero thing. Its just a bad idea with the “Iron Man” title( and I dislike iron man). I liked the name War Machine, and I also like him more then Iron Man. This Sentinel thing isn’t a bad idea. I think some people may not like it because it has the word sentinel in it. They’re just basically mech pilots(or armored suit pilots). Its similar to that bodyguard idea except with the government, and they may actually handle super hero like situations.Though the concept will probably be used horribly, and now the marvel universe needs superheroes even less. Same deal with the omac thing, if you can fund all those omacs… why the hell do we need superheroes.

I thing war machine is a suiting name and a suiting character for Rhodes but I do think that he needs to separate from iron man even better maybe battle him and the idea of a body guard that’s just plain stupid seriously a body guard? come on hes a super hero for god sake Id say maybe iron man goes crazy or has his mind taken over try’s to destroy stark tower and war machine comes to the rescue and and epic battle between Rhodes and Stark I think it’s perfect placing two best friends against each other hell maybe even through in some new armor maybe a similiar look maybe different material such as vibranium seeing how he has connections with black panther mixed with some adementium maybe and give it more of a high tech look.

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